Brief Notes

The Widow’s Very
Last Mite

20 July 2022

It may seem
“unreasonable” to give
our all to the Lord,
but it is the most
blessed life we can
possibly live

Recently I was looking at the coins used in the New Testament. A denarius was considered good wages for a day’s work (Matt. 20:2). The quadrans was the least valuable Roman coin of Biblical times; in Latin its name literally means “the fourth part” or “quarter.” It was worth 1/64 of a denarius.

The lepton was a small copper coin, the smallest of all the Greek coins, being worth just 1/128 of a denarius; its name literally means “small” or “thin.” In the traditional King James rendering it is called a “mite.”

What struck me, though, was the fact that the widow who cast her all into the temple treasury had two mites (that is, two leptons) instead of one quadrans. The Bible even makes a point of telling us, as part of this story, that two mites equal a quadrans (Mark 12:42).

Had she possessed a single quadrans instead of the two mites, she would have had only two choices: to offer everything, or to offer nothing. But, because she had the two mites, she had a third choice as well: to offer something to God, while at the same time keeping something back for herself.

Did she spend some time before the Lord to consider whether to offer that second mite? Of course, we don’t know, but perhaps she struggled with Him, explaining to Him how great her need was. God had already taken her husband, and it seems she had no children, at least none who were caring for her; must He have the last mite as well? What difference could such a small amount possibly make to Him anyway? Perhaps she also told herself that, under the circumstances, it would be reasonable to offer something, but not all.

How often in our consecration, our “offering” to God, we are just like this! Yes, we do love the Lord, and so we offer, but we also care for ourselves, so we do what is reasonable; we withhold something as well. The spiritual value of this kind of consecration is very limited.

Eventually, the poor widow would not offer to God in that way; as unreasonable as it was, she “cast in all she had,” even to that second mite, the very last one (Mark 12:44). And while she did not know it, this was an offering the Lord Himself appreciated, and which would have an impact on so many lives (I have to add, my own included) now for almost 20 centuries. Not a bad return for two small copper coins!

And truly, how blessed is this unreasonable life of “casting in all” for the Lord’s sake; how far it exceeds the value of anything we could ever hope to gain here on the earth! M. E. Barber, who mentored Watchman Nee, knew what it was to live such a life. In one of her poems she likened it to being a “wrecked” vessel on the sea of life. The first two verses read:

“Wrecked outright
on Jesus’ breast”:
Only “wrecked” souls
thus can sing;
Little boats that hug
the shore,
Fearing what the storm may bring,
Never find on Jesus’ breast,
All that “wrecked” souls mean
by rest.

“Wrecked outright!” So we lament;
But when storms have done
their worst,
Then the soul, surviving all,
In Eternal arms is nursed;
There to find that nought
can move
One embosomed in such love.

There is one other point to note about these coins. Twice the Lord warned us that we might be thrown into prison by our adversary. In Matthew He said that we would not be released until we paid the last quadrans (Matthew 5:26, NASB20), but in Luke, speaking on a different occasion, He states that we would not be released until we have paid the last mite (Luke 12:59, NKJV).

The mite, then, is of so little value that man may or may not care about it. However, the Lord always cares about it! He is seeking that we offer Him our “very last mite”—that we truly give Him our all, while casting ourselves upon Him and His care. So, let us truly give our all to Him, while holding nothing back for ourselves. For as He knows, this is the most blessed life a human being can possibly live.

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— 20 July 2022 —